I realize I haven’t told you about my visit with The Nephew. I think I’ve still been processing. Also, I had other things to tell you about, like international men of mystery and weirdo pervs who have dolphin sex. Yes, yes, my mind is a wondrous place to behold, like those shelves at Target that are way off to the back that have a whole plethora of junk on them that’s all marked way down and you never know what you’ll find, like maybe calcium pills! Or coffee filters! Or condoms! All in a gross jumble, and covered with leaky lice shampoo. This is my mind, ladies and gentlemen. YOU ARE WELCOME TO ENTER. Don’t worry about the “you break it, you buy it” rule. It’s all already brokedy-broke anyway.
(Speaking of topics, I seriously have a file titled “Shit to Write About Someday” that is FILLED TO THE BRIM with weirdness. There is TRASH and there is TREASURE. Most of it is stuff I have to take time researching, but once I do, it’s going to be awesome. Like, for example, remember the post about the pickup artists? A friend sent me the link, I didn’t dare look at it at work because it looked like it had too many bikini ladies on it, so I filed in in my junk-drawer file. Then one day I said, DUDE! PUA POST! And I wrote it. And by the way, I totally psychically ganked it from Ken, who that SAME DAY, was planning to write A VERY SIMILAR POST. I know! You’re hearing Twilight Zone music in your head, right? It’s ok. Ken and I are secret siblings. This shit happens all the time to us. ANYWAY, I think most of these awesome trash-or-treasure posts are going to end up being written after tax season when my head’s back on my shoulders. So if in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “Hey, Amy mentioned she was going to talk about BLANK at one point, whatever happened with that, perhaps she is LOSING HER MIND!” the answer is yes, yes I am losing my mind, thank you very much, but I’ll be getting it back in approximately a month, and WHOO DOGIES then won’t we have fun?)
Anyway, The Nephew. That kid. THAT KID. I can’t even tell you. Oh, wait. YES, I CAN. It’s WHAT I DO HERE.
I’d put a photo here, like normal people would, but the mere thought of anyone perving over The Nephew makes me want to stab someone with an icepick, so sorry. Just imagine the cutest, best, most wonderful child ever, then multiply that times a million, and add things that are just a BIT better than that. THE NEPHEW!
So I met his mom at her parents’ house. When I pulled up, The Nephew was playing with a tricycle and a sled. There’s no snow. He was just playing with it. He gains a lot of enjoyment out of things, what can I say. His other aunt (I like to think of her as “COMPETITION” but she’s actually quite lovely) picked him up and said, “The Nephew! Look who’s here!” and he squinted his little eyes and saw me and I thought, “Will The Nephew remember me? It’s been three months. Maybe he’s forgotten me. This could be heartbreaking. Prepare yourself for that, Amy, you big goober, and don’t start crying like you did that one time that he didn’t remember you and you looked like an asshole.” (I like to be a hardass with myself. Unfortunately, it very seldom works.)
The Nephew saw me. I saw The Nephew. My Grinch heart IMMEDIATELY grew three sizes and broke the measuring machine and I grinned like an escapee from the mental institution. Because he’s grown so big! And he’s so adorable! And his little cheeks were all pink from playing outside! And he was SO DAMN CUTE!
And The Nephew’s face LIT RIGHT UP LIKE A CANDLE, you guys. No joke. The Nephew NOT ONLY REMEMBERED ME, he was EXCITED TO SEE ME.
So his aunt brought him over to me and he totally let me hold him for a minute, which is a tough thing with a little wiggleworm like The Nephew, then he said, very seriously, “Do you want to play in the dirt with me?” and I said, “Yes!” and he said, “Let’s go!” so we went over to play in the dirt.
It’s very hard to be a Grumpy McGrump Grump when your Grinch heart has broken the measuring machine and your beloved Nephew is showing you his tricycle and his sled and running all around talking to you in his little voice with all of his new words and you’re just soaking him in because you know you only get a couple of hours before he has to head back home and that’s four hours away and you won’t see him for probably four more months and he’s the one person you love more than anyone else in the entire world, sorry everyone else in the entire world.
Then it was time to go inside, only The Nephew did not want to go inside. He wanted to continue to play in the dirt.
Me: The Nephew, if we go inside, I have some presents for you.
The Nephew: Presents? FOR ME?
The Nephew: Where are the presents?
Me: In my car!
The Nephew: Let’s go!
I want this kind of unbridled enthusiasm about everything in my life. I think it would make every day an adventure. This kid is ALL EXCLAMATION POINTS ALL THE TIME. Which is why when he grows up I think we’ll be like peas and carrots, because I think he’ll appreciate my caps-lock obsession.
Then I gave him the Matchbox cars that I mortgaged my life for* (*might be an exaggeration) and he was VERY EXCITED. Especially about the one that you play with in the bathtub.
The Nephew: Let’s play with this now!
Me: We can’t play with that one now, kiddo. That one’s for tonight, when you get home and take a bath.
The Nephew: I can take a bath now!
Me: Well, yes, you CAN, but let’s wait til tonight.
The Nephew: But I’m dirty now! (Shows me his little grubby hands from playing in the dirt)
You can’t argue with impeccable logic like that. You just cannot.
So then it was time to go to the playground. As The Nephew got on his outdoor gear, he told me, “I’m going to the PLAYGROUND!” in tones a normal person would use for “I just won THE PUBLISHER’S CLEARING HOUSE SWEEPSTAKES!” or I would use for “I LOVE PUDDING!” So I told him, “I know, that sounds like so much fun! Do you think I can go with you?”
The Nephew answered, after a moment’s thought, “Yes. I like you!”
ZOMG, The Nephew. I LIKE YOU, TOO. MORE than pudding. SO MUCH MORE.
Then we went to the playground, where The Nephew went up the stairs, down a slide, up the stairs, down a slide, up the stairs, down a slide, over and over and over and over. That entertained him to no end. I was entertained just watching him. I’m pretty sure anyone looking at us would think I was a looney because I had crazy eyes of love and I was carrying water and a Tupperware of blueberries in case he needed a snack for a twenty-minute trip to the playground. YOU NEVER KNOW. Hunger can strike AT ANY TIME.
Next there was a BIG slide, which was a little daunting for The Nephew, but I promised him I would catch him at the end. AND HE TRUSTED ME TO. What do you think of that? That’s a little scary, right? A child TRUSTED HIS LIFE TO ME. I know! (Don’t fret. I totally caught him at the end. I was rewarded with a grin and a “whee!”)
The Nephew then attempted to make friends with another child by hucking a handful of playground rocks at his face. I’m not really sure what the strategy was, here, but I’m sure, as it was MY Nephew, it was brilliant. However, he was thwarted in his friendship schemery by his mom, who caught his arm at the last minute and therefore the rocks did not hit their intended target, and then he had to apologize, and the other kid just shrugged and walked away. I tried to put a positive spin on it by telling The Nephew’s mom that he’d just been trying to SHOW the other kid the BEAUTY inherent in the rocks by letting them SPARKLE and SHINE through the SUNLIGHT but she wasn’t buying my used car salesmanship of the rock-pitching.
Finally, it was time to go home, have some lunch, and hit the road. The Nephew wasn’t having any of that. NO NO NO. He wanted to PLAY MORE. But neither his mom or his other aunt wanted to be the one who was the badguy and pick him up and bring him to the car. I’m totally up for being the badguy. What, the kid’s not going to hold a grudge. He’s not even three yet. He’ll forget which of us took him away from the playground. He’s a kiddo. The WORLD is his playground.
So I said “Time to go, favorite nephew!” and scooped him up and he was all “NO NO NO! WANT TO PLAY!” and began to “cry” but it was not real crying as if he’d hurt himself. So I said, “What is this? Crying? There’s no crying on playgrounds!” and was QUITE IMPRESSED with my A League of Their Own quote-bastardization. Then as I walked to the car I flipped him upside down and used a wacky voice. When I flipped him right-side-up, he said, “NO NO NO!” and pretended to be sad but he was also grinning and giggling and then pretending to hide the grins and giggles with a VERY STERN FACE but he was not succeeding. So more upside-down flippage and more giggles and more pretend-sterniness until we got to the car and he’d totally forgotten I’d forced him to leave the playground of wonder. I WIN AUNTING.
When we got back to his grandmother’s house, it was time for lunch. Lunch was peanut butter toast and grapes and juice. I got to sit with him during lunch. Things that happened during lunch:
- He got kind of covered in peanut butter, like, in his HAIR and on his FACE and on his HANDS and on his SHIRT
- He lathered his face with half a grape, and also all that peanut butter, like a little ingenious spa facial
- He sang me “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round”
- He told me in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that he was NOT eating “a peanut butter sandwich” but “PEANUT BUTTER TOAST”
- He recited the alphabet thusly: “ABCA,AAA,AAAAAAA,JJJ,JJJ” – totally in tune to the Alphabet Song, though – then had a humongous giggle fit when I told him that “if that’s the alphabet, pumpkin, we’d certainly have a hard time communicating”
- He told me his dad cut his hair (he has a wee toddler brush cut, it’s adorable, I only touched it about a gajillion times) and when I told him, “Your dad is my brother!” he looked at me very seriously, mulled this over in his mind, then said, “Nah.”
It was finally the end of lunchtime, and that’s his least favorite time, because it’s “grab a wet washcloth and scrub The Nephew” time! He doesn’t appreciate that much. But you know what makes it enjoyable? Making it into a MUSICAL. Called, “We’re washing off the PEANUT BUTTER TOASTTTT! With the washcloth of WONDERRRRRR!” He LAUGHED and LAUGHED. So I said, “Listen, kiddo, you’re just about the only person who appreciates that life would be better as a musical, you know? I like that about you.” And he looked at me and said, “Yes!”
Yes, indeed, magical child of goodness and light. YES INDEED.
Then it was “put on our shoes and coat time” because after THAT it was the worst time of the day: strap The Nephew into a carseat and watch him drive away. No one likes that time of day.
He did not want to put his shoes on. You’d put one on, and as you were putting the other one on, he’d attempt to kick you in the face, or pull off the first one, or BOTH. But, again, making into a “we are putting on our SHOOOEEEESSS!” musical worked wonders. I’m really quite good at this aunting thing, I’d like to say right now.
Right before they left, his mom told me they were coming up for a long weekend in April. SO! Instead of having to wait until possibly the summer to see The Nephew again, I get to see him in a little over a month. That made watching him leave a little less ouchy. But only a little.
I leaned into his door and kissed my finger and patted him on the cheek with it and he grinned at me like a little heartbreaker. “I’ll see you next month, buddy,” I said.
He looked at me with his little serious face. “I see you NOW,” he said.
“Yes, but you’re going home now, so I won’t see you in a minute. I’ll see you next month, though! You’re coming back to visit again!”
“OK,” he said.
“I love you, The Nephew,” I said. He nodded, very seriously, and said, “I have a firetruck!” (and showed me his new firetruck his grandmother got him.)
I like to think that means, “I love you, too, Aunt Amy. As my most eccentric aunt, you get my toddler stamp of approval, and as we grow older, I look forward to us becoming closer and more bonded!”
Then they drove away, and I had a few tears in my car because I AM NOT MADE OF STONE, PEOPLE.
(And, side note, my mom told me the next day she went over to see him, and he said, “Come here!” and brought her to the bathroom, where the Matchbox tub toy was, and showed her how the car went WHOOSH down the ramp when you put water in it, and he told her that Aunt Amy gave it to him. And his mom told my mom that he didn’t want to get out of the bathtub the night before. He kept saying, “No! I’m PLAYING!” I WIN GIFTING.)
I find it very hard to believe that even though I don’t care about, well, much of anything, somehow this kid has completely, totally, and utterly stolen my heart and is walking around with it in his little wee chest. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN. The Nephew! You’re like the world’s best cat burglar, I swear.
See you in five weeks, kiddo. Love you more than all the pudding. All the pudding in the whole damn WORLD.